Weekend Mass to be discontinued in LaGrange, St. Patrick and Wayland

Due to a declining number of priests and parishioners, weekend Masses are being discontinued in Notre Dame Church in LaGrange, the Shrine of St. Patrick in St. Patrick and St. Martha Church in Wayland.

The churches will remain open for weddings, funerals and other liturgies. The Shrine of St. Patrick will continue to have one weekday Mass.

Parish and finance councils and parish schools of religion for young people in these parishes will continue.

Parish leaders and representatives from the Jefferson City diocese made the announcement on April 22. Meetings were held after the Sunday Masses in Wayland and St. Patrick for members of the Clark County parishes, and later that afternoon in LaGrange for members of the Lewis County parishes.

Conducting the meetings were: Father Christopher Aubuchon, who serves as the priest and pastor for these parishes; Kristin Roth, pastoral administrator for St. Patrick, St. Michael and St. Martha; and three members of Bishop W. Shawn McKnight’s diocesan cabinet: Monsignor Robert A. Kurwicki, vicar general; Sister Kathleen Wegman SSND, chancellor; and Father Mark A. Porterfield, judicial vicar and vicar for clergy.

These changes have come about as a result of a process that began with a diocesan pastoral plan issued by Bishop Emeritus John R. Gaydos called: “Christ’s Call … Our Response.” Originally released in 2010, this plan was renewed and updated in 2016 after two years of extensive local consultation.

One of the priorities in the pastoral plan called for the development of a parish staffing plan for the diocese. This required a comprehensive study to be undertaken, “including consultation with laity, regarding parish viability, consolidation, clustering, creation of new parishes, and staffing by combinations of clergy and lay ministers appropriate to each parish.”

During 2014-2016, diocesan leadership conducted regional meetings in the eight geographical regions of the diocese, called deaneries. Parish leadership and parishioners at each of these deanery meetings were given the task of working together to develop recommendations for possible reconfiguration of parishes and missions, in order to make the best use of the number of active priests available for service in the diocese.

The two-year consultation process included the Hannibal Deanery, which contains the six parishes in Clark and Lewis counties: St. Michael (Kahoka), Shrine of St. Patrick (St. Patrick), St. Martha (Wayland), St. Joseph (Canton), Queen of Peace (Ewing) and Notre Dame (LaGrange).

Following those consultations, the diocese in 2016 began a regular rotation of weekend Masses in those six churches.

After more than a year of the rotating schedule, many parishioners of these parishes requested that the diocese adopt a fixed location for weekend Masses in the two counties.

In response to that request, and upon review of parish attendance figures and considering the diocesan priest resources, the decision was made to discontinue weekend Masses at the three churches.

The diocese conducts an annual census of Mass attendance in October. Average weekend attendance at St. Patrick since 2010 has been about 74 people; at St. Martha, about 43 people and at Notre Dame about 41.

The diocese currently has 66 active diocesan priests covering 95 parishes and 15 missions in a 22,000-square-mile region that encompasses 38 Missouri counties.

The number of active diocesan priests could fall by as many as 20 — from 66 to 46 — by 2022, due to projected retirements. Priests are eligible for retirement at age 70.

There are no priestly ordinations scheduled for 2018 for this diocese.

Comments are closed.